It’s a rock & roll reunion at the rink

The cat’s out of the bag. The game is up. The jig (or better yet — the gig) is also up. The worst kept secret that never really was a secret is intentionally out. Yes, it’s true: Dance hall days are coming back! You see, a handful of us local ex, former, old and current

The cat’s out of the bag. The game is up. The jig (or better yet — the gig) is also up. The worst kept secret that never really was a secret is intentionally out. Yes, it’s true: Dance hall days are coming back!

You see, a handful of us local ex, former, old and current musician-types have been meeting local expert museum-types weekly for over a year now. And in addition to scarfing Timbits, we have been actually planning something special.

Even if you are too young to have rocked out back in the dance hall days, it the best time you never had.

Us lucky ones basked in the glow of the red, blue and yellow stage lights reflecting back onto the packed wooden dance floors; we surfed on 100-decibel waves coming from Fender guitars and Ludwig drums, and we lifted our girlfriends on our shoulders and danced with unembarrassed abandon whenever the band played the classic Jackie Wilson song Higher and Higher.

Well, some of us height-and-strength-challenged guys didn’t do the lift, but a lot of the braver guys and girls did, that’s for sure.

See, this was back in the Stone Age when you had to be 21-years-old to get into adult beverage establishments, which was not a bad thing on account of it meant that places like the venerable Varsity Hall at Sylvan Lake and the funky Moose Hall in Innisfail and a bunch of cool, far out places in our own fair town could exist.

Places with names like the Chat Noir, The Happening, The Strobe Light, the Junior Activities Building (later known as the Creative Arts Building), and the 100 Foot Hall (which was officially the I.O.O.F. Hall that really was about 100 feet long and about 20 feet wide and had a coffin with a skeleton hidden under the stage. Not kidding.).

And although many teenaged dance hall devotees made their own pre-parties with various beverages, etc., in friend’s basements, nearby fields, and parked cars before the dance, it was the hall and the music and the bands and many attractive members of the opposite gender that really made the Friday night, Saturday night or Sunday Midnight Frolic dances something special and something that really defined the era.

An era where the guys’ job was to grow their hair as long as possible, and the girls’ job was to wear the shortest skirts possible. An era when cars had chrome instead of plastic, and the road boats were cool and groovy and didn’t look like every other car on the road.

A time when you’d pull into the A&W and a cute girl in brown and orange uniform would hang a tray of hamburgers and chips and thick glass root beer mugs that weighed 15 pounds each on the half-open driver’s window of said road boat.

A time when infamous Red Deer bands like The Drifters, Easy Street, SAM, Bedford Page, Six Pak and Gaetz Avenue Dance Band drove around lugging U-Hauls or driving converted band buses and played the music that people loved and listened to in the Comp parking lot before class on car radios tuned to the CJCA Hit Parade, or 630 CHED with episodes of The Chicken Man.

Well, “here they come again” as the Dave Clarke Five used to sing.

You may have noticed, and if you haven’t perhaps you should check your pulse, that this year is the 100th year anniversary of the incorporation of Dead Rear as a city. And as such, many interesting and celebratory type events are taking place throughout 2013. This is wherein of I speak, so to speak.

It’s called the Rock & Roll Reunion at the Rink, and as we used to say: “Be there or be square!” Well, I’ve never actually said that, and you probably haven’t either, but somebody must have said it sometime because it’s right there on the poster.

It’s a real actual “arena gig” — kind of like the Crawdaddy Rock Festival that was held at the Red Deer Arena somewhere in the late 1960s when many of us were just little children, only this time it’s at the newly renovated curling rink, and it’s even better.

The idea is this: How about getting a bunch of the original members of original bands that originally played in Red Deer during the formative musical years of 1960 to 1975.

How about they practise up some of those timeless popular tunes from those years and throw a big dance hall arena dance to celebrate the centennial of our fair town.

How about the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery sponsor the big event, and the bands all donate all the proceeds back to a great cause like the museum.

So after 12 or 14 months of planning, several thousand Timbits and several thousand decisions, the Rock & Roll Reunion at the Rink is officially rockin’.

The RRRR kicks off the Red Deer Centennial Homecoming Weekend on the Friday night of the July long weekend.

Weren’t Fridays your favourite days, and weren’t long weekends your favourite weekends? Well this is going to be some long weekend — full of events and food and lights on the river and rockin’ at the rink.

Why am I telling you all this now — when spring hasn’t even sprung like it’s supposed to and summer seems several thousand light years away?

Because the July long is a busy time and people are making plans already, and tickets are already going fast, and I personally wouldn’t want you to miss the dance hall days revival reunion whether you were actually there in the day or you missed it on account of you were born at the wrong time.

I will give you all the gory details down the long and winding road, but meantime, tickets are on sale at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery and on their website, reddeermuseum.com.

And this gives you enough time to practise the Higher and Higher girl-on-the-guy’s-shoulders manoeuvre with your BH.

We’ll make sure we play it for you.

Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, award-winning author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate. His books can be found at Chapters, Coles and Sunworks in Red Deer.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Thursday that the province was ready to move forward with Phase 2A and B in the coming weeks. (Photo by Paul Taillon/Office of the Premier)
COVID restrictions for retail, sports and performers further eased

Occupancy in stores and malls boosted to 25 per cent from 15 per cent

Advocate file image
Red Deer COVID cases continues to decline

249 cases in Red Deer, down from 565 peak on Feb. 22

(File photo)
Five Olds College students semi-finalists in marketing pitch competition

Winner of Second Annual UFA Student Pitch Competition to be announced April 13

Nordegg residents, including retired fisheries biologist Vance Buchwald, are concerned this kind of coal mining could start up in the wilderness area. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File).
Biologist urges Clearwater County to take a stand against Nordegg coal mining

Vance Buchwald said there’s no future in coal, the county should back eco-tourism

Quentin Lee Strawberry Photo from RCMP
Updated: Bleeding man came to door frantically calling for 911 help, neighbour testifies in murder trial

Quentin Strawberry on trial for second-degree murder accused of killing Joseph Gallant in 2019

Ben King scores for the Red Deer Rebels during the third period of a Western Hockey League game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday. (Photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels complete comeback to pick up first win of season

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT) The Red Deer Rebels were able to… Continue reading

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett takes her seat as she wait to appear before the Indigenous and Northern Affairs committee in Ottawa on March 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID-19 magnified systemic discrimination against Indigenous women: Bennett

COVID-19 magnified systemic discrimination against Indigenous women: Bennett

Elvira D'Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

A newspaper is blown by the wind after it is placed on a railing by a television crew outside Buckingham Palace in London, Monday, March 8, 2021. Britain's royal family is absorbing the tremors from a sensational television interview by Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex, in which the couple said they encountered racist attitudes and a lack of support that drove Meghan to thoughts of suicide. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Kirsty Wigglesworth
Harry and Meghan interview invites fresh scrutiny over Canada’s royal ties

Harry and Meghan interview invites fresh scrutiny over Canada’s royal ties

The cast of "Kim's Convenience" arrives on the red carpet for the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on March 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
CBC sitcom ‘Kim’s Convenience’ to end with fifth-season finale in April

CBC sitcom ‘Kim’s Convenience’ to end with fifth-season finale in April

This image shows part of a Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021 Instagram post by Jeff Klein of Austin, Texas, holding his COVID-19 vaccination card. The 44-year-old musician notes he was given a shot as a volunteer at a mass vaccination hub at the Alamodome in San Antonio. ”I definitely mentioned it on purpose, because I didn’t want people to get the wrong idea,” (Jeff Klein via AP)
Guilt, envy, distrust: Vaccine rollout breeds mixed emotions

Guilt, envy, distrust: Vaccine rollout breeds mixed emotions

People take part in a protest on International Women's Day in Warsaw, Poland, Monday March 8, 2021. Women’s rights activists in Poland marked International Women’s Day on Monday caught between reasons to celebrate and a heavy sense that they are facing a long battle ahead. This year’s Women’s Day, which is being marked with protests, comes after a near total ban on abortion took effect in January in the historically Roman Catholic country, a step that had long been been sought by the conservative ruling party, Law and Justice. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
Polish women mark Women’s Day protesting abortion ban

Polish women mark Women’s Day protesting abortion ban

A SAGA member (left) poses as Jessi Hanks (right) with Castle Restaurant puts up a safe space sticker to display on the restaurant’s front door. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
SAGA Wetaskiwin works with local businesses to display they are a safe space

The safe space stickers show that its a safe and inclusive space.

Marc Kielburger, screen left, and Craig Kielburger, screen right, appear as witnesses via video conference during a House of Commons finance committee in the Wellington Building in Ottawa on July 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
MPs vote to issue summons for Kielburger brothers to testify at ethics committee

OTTAWA — Members of the House of Commons ethics committee have unanimously… Continue reading

Most Read